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Arttu Re^3 - DIY Bartop Arcade Project

Päivitetty: 7. tammik. 2021

In my last blog I hinted at a new game project I was about to start. In fact, the project is about recycling the old. The idea is to build a bartop arcade video game of my own, and use as much recycled materials as possible.

In the heart of any arcade game cabinet is the game itself. Fortunately I have an old, unpublished spare game to use. My game, Little Knight Arthur, is a traditional platform game for Commodore 64, developed 30 years ago, and recently rescued from floppy disks, as told in a previous blog post.

Thus the project code name, Arttu Retrogame*Recycled*Resurrected, or Arttu Re^3.

In fact, the idea to build an arcade game cabinet has been brewing for a few years. In the fall 2013 I visited a flea market and found an iCade cabinet for the meager sum of 4 euros. The iCade is a small game cabinet with arcade style joystick + buttons, connected using bluetooth, for the iPad. Some suitable games to play using this peripheral are included inretro game collections by Atari.

iCade cabinet for iPad - and the idea of putting Arttu game into it

Due lack of proper 80's home computer emulators for iPad, however, it turned out to be unfeasible to use it as an arcade cabinet for my own old games. Furthermore, I did not have suitable display or processor board to add to the iCade, as an alternative for an iPad. The cabinet is also a bit toyish, not really sturdy enough in my opinioin for arcade type play.

This is why I then decided to embark on building my own cabinet, utilizing instructions for such projects available on the Internet. Such project requires a suitable workspace and tools, some of which I do not have yet. After moving to a new house in Jyväskylä in Central Finland earlier this fall, I fortunately now have a small workshop room for the project.

So it is time to start getting the additional materials needed and kick off the project, over the Christmas holidays at the latest. I will be posting updates to the blog as I make progress.

The Starting Point

In this picture, the currently gathered materials:

* A couple of old laptops

- Fujitsu Siemens Amilo L7320GW, with Intel Celeron processor

- HP Pavilion dv6500, with AMD Turion64 processor

I've replaced Linux as the OS for both computers, and installed virtual home computers aka emulators. In Fujitsu i have VICE Commodore 64 emulator, running Arttu C64 (Little Knight Arthur). In HP, the emulator is called Oricutron, and it runs Arttu for Oric-1. My plan is to use one or the other laptop as the brains for my new arcade video game cabinet.

* Suitable pieces of wooden boards and plates, preferably recycled

I have parts from a used IKEA pinewood dresser. I also have miscellaneous other pieces wood lying around the workshop.

Missing pieces

These parts I need to get:

* Arcade quality joystick and buttons. I could recycle the controls for my iCade, but I may still have use for it. So I'm likely to order new control set and interface controller for this project.

* Additional speakers, and possibly an amplifier.

* Front glass to cover the laptop display panel. This should be plexiglass type material.

* Paints. The colors and decals for the side and front panels are not designed yet, but I do have some ideas from my 80's archives.

* Tapes and T-molding to give nice finish for the cabinet.

* More lumber if needed. The IKEA leftovers may not be enough, especially if I end up scrapping stuff because of mistakes.

* Electric wiring, connectors, etc miscellaneous parts to connect the pieces.

Some missing tools

* Vertical drill

* Router

* Small table saw

I'm also missing a decent workbench for woodworking in my small workshop. I could probably manage without it, but it is much easier to work when you don't have to do everything on the shop floor. For final assmbly, soldering, etc I already have the pictured cheap and light workbench from Motonet.

By the way, if you read this, have experience in a similar project and wish to provide me with tips for getting parts or building the cabinet, please be in touch. It is my first time for building such a complex hardware project. There was a time in my childhood prior to having a home computer when I built my own small purely mechanical pinball machines and other hardware games, but those were kid's stuff compared to the quality and finish I'm aiming for this time!

Next I should start putting together some blueprints and more detailed plans for Arttu Re^3.


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